Tuesday, 16 February 2010

5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas

Death-obsessed artist Richard Streeb is attacked in front of his wife Gloria, and seemingly murdered. His body disappears, meaning that the police initially have their hands tied until another murder, this time with an actual body left at the scene, is committed. Meanwhile Richard’s brother Bill arrives from abroad and begins his own investigations…

5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas is a film that will likely divide viewers. On the one hand it shows considerable wit and affection for its giallo models – where else can you find a mad artist doing a sketch of the cover art for the Beast in Heat, for instance, or a man being killed by the killer’s dunking his head into a piranha filled fish-tank? On the other hand it suffers from a very low budget, with very grainy cinematography, not terribly well synchronised post-synchronised dialogue, and a fair number of flat scenes where people just stand or sit around in ways that cumulatively make you think of an updated Andy Milligan-type home movie (an impression enhanced by the New York based locations).

Overall, however, I’d be inclined to give writer, director and cinematographer Joseph Parda the benefit of the doubt, that he knew when he wanted to be serious, as with the set pieces and the use of Argento or Bava inspired unnatural lighting schemes, and when not to, as with a quirky beatnik bar scene that pays homage to Corman’s A Bucket of Blood while also giving the film its title. He also throws in a gratuitous shower murder scene to kick things off, which is never a bad way to start.


Anonymous said...

Haven't seen it, but bad dubbing, grainy cinematography and plenty of filler might also have been attempts to recreate the typical (70s) Giallo feeling. Might sound farfetched, but, after all, it did work for Ti West and "House of the devil".

K H Brown said...

For the cinematography I think it depends a lot on how you see the films, if it was via an old VHS or a restored DVD.

luca canali said...

Only recently, you posted this link:
"A thesis on Brutality in Filone cinema - Abstract and download link here: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/608/"

And this might help, too:
Author: Wallman, Bengt (Stockholm University, Department of Cinema Studies)
Title: Il thrilling Italiano:: Opening up the giallo

These theses should at least have useful bibliographies.